Archive for Crystal Castles

Nostalgia For the Oughties; Or, How Did We Ever Listen to This Crap?

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 18, 2010 by peteymenz


The eighties have an unfair reputation when it comes to music.  Yes, there was a tremendous amount of awful music released during the eighties, from histrionic synthpop to ridiculous hair metal, but there’s one thing to have to remember about this supposedly awful decade- it wasn’t too bad in a relative sense.  There was just as much crap released during the sixties, seventies, and nineties.  Every decade has an exorbitant amount of horrendous songs released during it, just like every decade has some truly transcendent music and a load of mediocre tracks.

Once I deduced that universal truth, I started thinking about the 2000s, or the “oughties,” or even the “endtimes.”  In twenty, ten, or even five years, there’s no doubt that a lot of this music that we listened to and enjoyed in the 2000s will sound mighty stupid.  You’ll know when it hits you; one day, you’ll be sitting around, listening to the Oldies station on, when suddenly a familiar track starts playing.  Let’s say it’s “So Bored,” by Wavves. And as you hear that song begin, you’ll be transported back to the time of your youth.  For a glorious second, you’ll be gripped with nostalgia.  And then Nathan Williams will start singing.

You’ll scratch your head, maybe cover your ears.  And when he reaches the chorus and starts “crooning” that heeeeeeeeeeeeeeee’sssss ssoooooooooooooo booooooooooooooooooreddd, well, then you’ll probably start laughing, because it is hilariously bad.  And when you go to your high school reunion, you can walk over to your friends, ask them if they remember Wavves, and have the satisfaction of making every single one of them crack up.

This column does not have the express purpose of bashing Wavves; So Bored is just one of those tracks that’s tied to a specific period in the oughties (the late 2000s lo-fi period) that will seem absolutely hilarious in a few years. There are many of those tracks, and thus I’ve compiled a playlist- a time capsule mixtape featuring the 10 tracks that simply must be the soundtrack to the indie teen movie set in the 2000s.  It’s organized semi-chronologically.  Enjoy.

1. Fuck the Pain Away– Peaches

Is this the legacy of electroclash?  A 2 Live Crew track fronted by a Canadian woman?  To her credit, her lyrics are nastier than anything from “Me So Horny.”  And come to think of it, does electroclash really deserve an enduring masterwork?

2. Highly Evolved– The Vines

Listening to this 90 second track again, it’s quite clear that the only reason the Vines were part of the garage rock revival was because they were a “the” band, rather than a “bizkit” band.  Also, Craig Nicholls sung rather than rapped.   But his singing is close to speaking, so rapping isn’t too far off.  And “Vine Bizkit” sounds plausible.

3. New Disco– Radio 4

Yeah, you heard the man.  It’s a new disco.  It’s a dance-punk disco.  It’s got politics and feedback.  Man, dance-punk is gonna start a revolution.  By 2007, every band will be dance-punk, and Radio 4 will have hijacked the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  Yeah!  It will definitely happen.

4. House of Jealous Lovers– The Rapture

This is a controversial choice, because many people still view it as a great song.  And it is, in a very limited way.  It’s infinitely better than the dance-punk track I put on right before this, but it’s not really that different.  The Rapture hit on something with this track- a certain je ne sais quoi that makes this song almost transcend dance-punk.  That said, do you really think that future generations- or even you in a few years- will be able to take this seriously?

5.  Crank Heart– Xiu Xiu

I believe that in the future, people will study contemporary music criticism to figure out why people took Xiu Xiu so seriously (no, they were not a parody of emo bands.).  The key to figuring out this great mystery lies in Pitchfork Media’s review of Fabulous Muscles, where the reviewer describes Crank Heart as the soundtrack to “some unspeakably sad video game,” which might be the funniest thing I’ve ever heard.

6. The Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth– Clap Your Hands Say Yeah

I’m 99% certain that when you saw this entry, you hadn’t thought of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah in three years.  And right now, you’re hunting through your iTunes library for their first album, which is not as good as you remember it.  Trust me.  What a voice that guy had.  What a voice indeed.

7. Don’t Save Us From The Flames– M83

“Out of the flames/a piece of brain in my hair/the wheels are melting/a ghost is screaming your name/Tina, Tina.” Sure, shoegazers never need to have great lyrics, but this is just creepy.

8. Alice Practice– Crystal Castles

In the year 2024, some future hipsters will have an “oughties dance party,” where they play all the DFA bands and dance ironically.  At one point, the DJ will decide to play this song, only knowing it as a popular electro-dance track from the late 2000s.  As soon as it starts, everyone will stop dancing and wonder why the DJ put his collection of 80s hardcore through a bitcrusher.

9. I Felt Stupid– The Drums

And eventually, so will we.   This is not to say it won’t be enjoyable in the future, but rather to assert that it will not get you any indie cred whatsoever.

10. Deadbeat Summer– Neon Indian

A few weeks ago, I was driving around with some friends.  We had been listening to Sigur Ros when one of my friends put on this track.  As soon as the beat kicked in, we all started bobbing our heads in an ironic fashion.  I noted the similarities to Wayne’s World, which makes this track the oughties’ Bohemian Rhapsody.  It’s almost as cheesy.


The Year of Living Musically: 2008 Winds to a Close

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 8, 2008 by peteymenz


Album of the Year, by the way

Album of the Year, by the way

Every year, the music scene brings great joys and horrific train wreck disappointments.  2008 is no different.  Read on:


No Age’s Nouns- The key thing about No Age is that though they unabashedly flirt with unadulterated ambience, noise, and bizarre loops (Things I Did When I Was Dead is just as strange as the title suggests), they are still PUNK RAWK, unlike Sonic Youth, their biggest influence, who didn’t get quite so accessible until Thurston Moore stopped killing his idols.  Verbs would be a more appropriate title for this album; the songs ooze movement and action, and that’s why the album is punk.  If one steps back from the speed rush of songs like “Miner” and “Sleeper Hold”, one will find the most original guitar sounds of the 21st century.  Unsurprisingly, it’s also the best record this year.

Crystal Castles’ Crystal Castles- Simultaneously one of the best records this year and a great entry point into noisy dance for Pac-Man addicts.  Yes, the synths may seem a bit gimmicky, but Alice Glass’s vocals, the DFA 1979 sample on “Untrust Us”, the blurred line between remixing and sampling on “Crimewave” (with some vocals taken from HEALTH)… they all add sonic depth to 8 bits, something that millions of Kraftwerk ripoffs somehow failed to do.  And “Black Panther” is catchy as all hell.

No Wave Recordings Released- The most confrontational rock movement ever (it could happen nowhere else but New York) never was a contender for an audience.  But 2008 rolls around.  And what do I see? An affordable Mars anthology.  A complete Teenage Jesus anthology (1995’s Everything is a helluva misnomer).  All 10 minutes or so of Beirut Slump.  DNA’s anthology released on vinyl.  Finally, the available documents of the No Wave span more than an hour.  

Guns N’ Roses Release Chinese Democracy- No, the music itself is a disappointment, but the joy is the fact that they finally released it; the joy is that I, who has hated Axl Rose for god knows how long, can point to the perfectionism imploding into junk that is Chinese Democracy, and can say “See, I told you they sucked”.


Cher Is Not Murdered- In 1998, Cher used a little vocal effect on the verse of her song “Believe”.  Her label wanted her to remove it, but she adamantly refused.  10 years later, every other hit song uses Autotune.  Cher has not yet been saved by Daft Punk (“One More Time” makes up for every vocoder abuse ever), but as the two Parisians start to make movies instead of house, Cher gets closer and closer to paying for T-Pain’s sins.

Black Kids’ Partie Traumatic- All right, no one expected this to be a great album.  But the disappointment is that this is not an absolutely horrendously cheesy album.  The appeal of “I’m Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You” is that it’s synthetic and silly, not that it’s danceable or reasonably catchy.  With Partie Traumatic, Black Kids should have gone for broke and made a horrible, self-indulgent record that would be tremendously enjoyable (About a quarter of the Rapture’s Echoes is a good precedent).  Instead, they made a semi-competent record that was pretty much what everyone expected it to be.  Why so unimaginative?

TV On The Radio’s Dear Science- TV on the Radio have always been a very distinctive band; though there are thousands of audible influences in TVOTR’s work, the sounds they draw from are so disparate that there’s really only one song that sets a precedent for what David Andrew Sitek, Tunde Adembimpe et al are doing; This Heat’s “Sleep”, from the 1981 album Deceit.  This is still somewhat true for Dear Science; there are still tons of influences, but only one precedent.  The problem is that the influences have changed from to sterile noise (think late-period Nine Inch Nails) in place of “Phil Spector as jet engine”, as the Village Voice put it, sanitized drum machine funk (think Cameo) in place of the shifting rhythmic intrigue, and Bowie ripoffs (Golden Age in particular) in place of fourth-dimensional doo-wop.  The disappointing thing about the album is that TVOTR are not using new instruments or a new producer; nothing has really changed except the quality has dropped off the face of the earth.  Sitek has lost all the intrigue of the alluringly hazy Young Liars EP; Adebimpe has lost all the soulful melodies of “Staring at the Sun” or “Province”; Malone is just a great deal more annoying.  Here is what is most telling: The New York Times compared Kanye West’s song “Love Lockdown” to TVOTR. 5 years ago, I would have cancelled my subscription.  Now, I shrug and agree. Dear TV on the Radio, thanks for nothing.